The other night while the Oscars were on, right before the Big Moment, your grandfather walked in with half a pill that they give to the dog. Maybe you ate the other half; maybe this is just a remnant. No one knows, but this little pink pill that LOOKS LIKE CANDY was found at you usual hangout at Grandpa’s house-the bench at the dining room table. We finally called poison control, and they were totally useless-since your grandma didn’t have the bottle; we were stuck completely ignorant about what this little pill might do to you. I mean we know it stops the dog from itching. So that’s where we started. When we woke you up and found you alert and pissed, (and definitely not itchy) we decided to take a gamble with your life and go back to sleep. When the vet called us back the next day (hello, when someone calls you at 11 pm and says their kid might have eaten a pill you prescribed to the dog, have a heart and call back, ok?) he was unconcerned and since he has 4 children and a gazillion animals I decided he’s probably seen his share of kids eating drugs.
I have to say that nothing that you’ve done this month compares to the three separate occasions where you’ve allowed me to spoon you on the couch. If anyone other than me in this house cared about photographs, we might have photographic evidence of this rare event. But I will never forget. One day you were sick, and we both were in a bad way. You seemed to realize that our best hope was to just lay here, and so we did. We must have watched almost a whole hour of TV that morning before you got hungry and pulled me off the couch to fetch you something to eat.
I think soon I may have to give up my title of Master Manipulator and pass the torch. Lately you’ve realized that pointing to your mouth at bedtime sometimes causes us to doubt ourselves, and on occasion we haul you back downstairs to shovel more food into your manipulative little mouth. And then today when we were shopping, you did the whole “I’m hungry” sign-fest, but it didn’t ring totally true for me because you were smirking. You are too cute to refuse, so we opened a box of baby crackers and you dove into them with a fury. Until we passed the donuts. Cookies? Screw baby cookies! So I got you the least offensive donut from the case- unglazed, plain.
When I broke off a little piece for you, you took it with your tiny fingers and hurled it to the floor with a forceful “NO!” and began to point at the donut case, finally making us understand that you wanted the green frosted one. I drew the line at green dye, and pulled out my Secret Weapon- the Emergency Suckie.
On the way out of the store, I said to you “you know you’re really a little crap, you know that?” and- your dad will bear witness to this- you SMIRKED AT ME, threw your head back, and giggled. The worst part is that we looked at each other and said “she is so CUTE!” instead of leaving you in the buggy and getting the hell out of there.
You run everywhere now. There is no walking, unless you’re up at 1 a.m. and we’re passing the bedroom where you know your dad is sleeping. Then, you tiptoe past the door and turn toward me with your finger over your mouth. “SHHHH!” you glare at me as you pass the door on your way to retrieve suckie contraband out of the crib.
Since you have only one speed (RUNNING!) it’s probably good that we don’t get out much, because I don’t like social workers and I know we’d see our share if Other Mothers got a good look at your scratched up, bruise covered little body. I brag about how tough you are and how you always pick yourself up and move on after you take a header into the couch or off the front porch, but the truth is that my heart breaks a little bit with each mark on your perfect skin, and sometimes I wish you needed me more in those moments. Before you were born I had all these little daydreams about how when you hurt yourself I would always be there for you, how I would hold you close and cover your boo-boos with kisses. But that’s not you. Every once in a great while, if we scoop you up and hold you, you’ll bury your tears into a shoulder for about 1.5 seconds before frantically signing “down! Down!” because there is way too much dirt to bathe in, and there are too many cats to chase. I confess that I sometimes remove your bruises and scratches in Photoshop before I upload pictures to share with the Internet.
I love that you’re so independent, and that you prove my theory that disposition is genetic and not so much environmental. Your babyhood could not be more different than your sister’s, in every conceivable way, except we love you both equally, of course. Yet, each day I look at you and see one more thing that reminds me of TeenHer. You are so very YOU, and yet so very much of me, and your dad, and TeenHer too.
Your sister sometimes complains that you don’t love her, because often when she comes near me you push her away and yell, “NOOOO” at your full volume, which is loud enough and at the right pitch to melt steel. But she doesn’t see your face on Monday mornings, after a weekend of waking up to family in the house, and how disappointed you are when you realize there’s no one here to play with. She doesn’t see you go into her room over and over again throughout the day, turning circles in the middle of the floor, searching the closet and under the covers. Sometimes, you will sign “help” to me so that I can put you up in her bed, and you ask for the remote control so that you can sit in her bed and watch her TV. This morning, even though your dad played with you outside for all of breakfast, you walked up to your sister and said, “GO!” while pointing at the back door. We don’t often let you out the back door-only if we’re getting in the car, or you’re headed out for a wagon ride. For the last 3 days, TeenHer has taken you for a wagon ride to Aunt Shirely’s house each afternoon, and now there is a Routine in place. So when you saw her TeenHer sitting on the couch, even though it was only 10 am, you were ready to go. We watched you disappear, squealing and bouncing in the wagon, and I have a feeling that if you knew what one was and how to get a whip, you would have whipped your sister to get her to move a little faster.
She complains sometimes when we make her play with you, but I’ve caught her giggling with you, and I see her face light up when you give her the ultimate gift of a baby hug or wet slobbery kiss.
I think my favorite part of the last month has been watching your gradual (and yet instantaneous) transformation from pliable baby to full-fledged member of the family. You have preferences and opinions. You are picky about what’s on TV and what we feed you. You have a favorite book and you remember where you put it last. You are no longer an extension of me, and while I’m glad to feel like myself again lately, I’m a little lonely for the baby on my hip.
Savoring every moment that you still fit in my arms,